With exactly one month until the Oakland Raiders report to training camp in Napa, California, our series of training camp battles continues with guards. While the Raiders will have many position competitions, left guard may be the most open.
Although coaches will say all the positions are up for competition, not many have starting implications. Left guard will for the Raiders. So far during the offseason programs both Lucas Nix and Tony Bergstrom have taken reps with the first team at left guard. Deciding not to bring Cooper Carlisle back, the Raiders will have a new left guard for the first time since 2007. Carlisle started every game but one in that time frame. Now 2012 third round pick Bergstrom and undrafted signing Nix will battle for the starting role.
Bergstrom made one start in his rookie season in place of the injured Mike Brisiel. He also saw time in nine other games on special team and offense packages. He was the first choice the Raiders made in the 2012 NFL Draft because the team did not have first or second round choice. In college Bergstrom played right tackle, but projected best inside at guard. He will have his opportunity to take the position this summer with a solid training camp performance.
Nix will not submit the position without a fight. Although he was undrafted because of some injury and durability concerns, he possesses an above average skill set at guard. He has good size at 6-5, 315 pounds. He is just behind Bergstrom presently, but can close the distance with a strong camp showing.
As far as right guard is concerned, Brisiel is in line to start again this season. After the Raiders spent a bunch of money to sign him last offseason, the former Texans guard was a bit of a disappointment. He restructured his contract this offseason to save the Raiders 3 million. Injuries were a primary cause of Brisiel's issues a season ago. He dealt with an ankle injury for a number of weeks, then a concussion cost him the final week of the season. He has only started 16 games in a season once in his seven year career. The Raiders need Brisiel to return to form for the offensive line to fulfill its maximum potential.
Two other guards on the current roster are Lamar Mady and Jason Foster. Mady was signed as an undrafted free agent this season and Foster is an undrafted free agent signed by the Indianapolis Colts last year. Neither is likely to be on the final roster, especially because the Raiders can use back-up center Alex Parsons at guard in a pinch. However, the Raiders are thin at the position with only those five players. If Mady or Foster emerges during camp, it could present the Raiders with a decision to keep one.
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